Love of music helps players find harmony, life mates


July 31, 2002|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SINCE 1983, the Columbia Concert Band has been a gathering for musicians who want to share their lifelong love of music. And a lucky few, including band director Mike Blackman, have found a lifetime partner there.

Blackman, who is also band director at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School, lives in River Hill village with his wife, Kathie, and 6-month-old daughter, Julianne. The couple met while both were playing clarinet in the band.

"At the time I met Kathie, I decided I was going to wait until I finished my master's degree in music education before I ever sought out a wife," Mike Blackman said.

The couple have been married for six years. Mike finished his final paper for the degree two weeks ago.

"I certainly didn't go to band to look for a relationship," Kathie Blackman said. "It kind of fell in both our laps."

Mike Blackman said their marriage is one of three that came out of the band. Former band members Don and Carol Dunlap of Eldersburg met while playing in the band. Nicki and Eric Letvin, who live in Elkridge, became acquainted while playing in the tuba section and have been married almost two years. The Letvins have a 6-week-old daughter, Maggie.

"We became friends from sitting next to each other, and one thing led to another," Nicki Letvin said. "It makes me glad that I started playing music when I was young and that I stuck with it. This band is the perfect outlet for playing once you're not in school anymore."

The Columbia Concert Band is affiliated with Howard Community College. Musicians can receive college credit for playing in the band. "They do not have a large concert band at HCC," Mike Blackman said. "Every music student should play in a large ensemble. There's nothing like it."

The Columbia Concert Band is open to all musicians, regardless of experience.

"We have everything from professionals to folks who have put their instruments away for 40 years," Mike Blackman said. "We leave it to the individual's judgment. If they know they're in over their heads, it won't be enjoyable for them."

Long Reach resident Larry Schultz has played trumpet with the concert band since its inception. He said that the band is bigger and better than ever. Schultz said that the best part of playing with the Columbia Concert Band is the satisfaction of making good music.

"I get lots of enjoyment and relaxation from playing in the band," Schultz said. "Playing my trumpet is a total relief from the day-to-day. I relax by blowing my horn."

The Columbia Concert Band has two affiliated groups: the Jazz Ensemble and the Starvation Army Band, a Dixieland band. All three groups will play at Columbia's Summer Lakefront Festival during the next few weeks.

The Jazz Ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. today at Lake Kittamaqundi. The Columbia Concert Band will perform popular music, patriotic tunes and original pieces, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 11. The Starvation Army Band will play Dixieland tunes, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 25.

"When we perform in public, we're showing music students that their careers don't have to end after high school or college," Mike Blackman said. "There is music after college for the nonprofessional. Kids need to know that. It's a lifelong activity. You don't have to give it up when you are older."

Information about the Columbia Concert Band: Mike Blackman, 301-596-9783.

Jazz in the courtyard

Wilde Lake resident Don Miller has been entertaining folks who wander through Wilde Lake Village Center on Sunday mornings. A clinical psychologist, Miller is also a classical guitarist who loves jazz.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 18, he can be heard playing in the village center courtyard. After a brief hiatus, Miller expects to resume the Sunday concerts Sept. 8.

"There's usually a nice gathering in the village center on Sundays," Miller said. "It's a small but enthusiastic crowd. It's been very gratifying."

Miller has one compact disc, Old School New Age, available online and at his performances. He expects his new CD, With You in Mind, to be available in early September.

Blood drive

Columbia's 10 village associations and the Columbia Association are cosponsoring a communitywide blood drive from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 8 at Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Road.

To make an appointment to donate: 410-730-4744, or send e-mail to towncenter@columbia .

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